Child Custody & Family Law Attorney

Custody & Divorce Lawyer in Los Angeles, Orange County, San Francisco, Riverside, San Diego, San Jose, Sacramento, and Surrounding Areas in California

The American model for resolving legal disputes is an adversarial system involving high conflict.  This may protect the interests of business litigants in civil court with partition actions but tends to ignore the consequences of making a contest over every issue to families in the family law setting.  It encourages otherwise decent people to become obsessed with “winning” often at the expense of everyone involved, resulting in a black hole of vicious, unproductive litigation.

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Whether the adversarial system is ideal for resolving family law disputes is a query best left to the philosophers. The more relevant question is how do you reach the end of a family law case without falling prey to the pitfalls of adversarial litigation? There is no one answer to this question, but one solution is having the right family law attorney by your side.  The right attorney can guide you through your family law case, productively reaching settlements outside of court when possible and vigorously advocating for your interests in court when appropriate.

Attorney Colleen Sparks

We understand that not every case needs to be litigated and that each individual case requires personalized solutions. Whether your case can be resolved in or out of court, we will fight for you every step of the way.

Colleen Talkov – Family Law Chair, Talkov Law


Skilled Family Law Attorney in California

Our experienced California family law firm seeks to understand the way you think and feel about your case to assist you in resolving your family and custody disputes. Our knowledgeable attorneys practice in all areas of family law, including the following:

Child Custody and Visitation

Talkov Law’s family law attorneys can help you obtain child custody agreements, orders, modifications, and judgments in the following areas:

Move Away and Relocation of Children

Child Custody Modifications

Grandparent’s Rights


Our experienced family law attorneys will fight to find a resolution to your martial dissolution

Property Division


Dissolution of Domestic Partnership

Legal Separation

Spousal Support

Other Family Law matters

Our family law attorneys have years of experience ending disputes and reaching agreements. Talkov Law’s attorneys can assist you in with all family law matters, including:



Restraining Orders

Child Support

Family Law Contempt

How Talkov Law Attorneys Handle California Family Law Matters

Our firm understands that not every case needs to be high conflict, and we work with our clients to achieve personalized resolutions to their problems. When settlement is impossible or unfavorable, we are also skilled trial attorneys who are ready to fight for our clients.

Our attorneys know that it is often best for everyone involved if an agreement is able to resolve a family law matter. Whether that involves negotiating a marital settlement agreement, joint child custody agreement, agreement for sole custody of a child, or a pet custody agreement, our attorneys have the knowledge and experience to effectively and efficiently get results for our clients.

Family Law Attorney California Lawyer Child Custody Divorce

While keeping the cost of litigation in mind, we strive to develop the best legal strategy to achieve your goals without overextending costs. When settlement is possible—as it often is—we are effective negotiators, often obtaining favorable settlement of entire cases without ever stepping into the courtroom. However, when settlement is impossible or unfavorable, we are also skilled trial attorneys who are ready to fight.

Ultimately, we strive to craft the best legal strategy tailored to each case, while steering clear of tactics that would unnecessarily drive up the cost of litigation. Our attorneys are responsive, prepared, and appropriately aggressive from start to finish.

Law Firm Specializing in Child Custody and Visitation Disputes

When parents decide to separate or get a divorce their children are necessarily impacted in a variety of ways.  Provided they are safe and cared for in an appropriate manner, children have the right to enjoy time with both of their parents even when the parents are no longer together.  When parents are unable to agree on the division of their child’s time, it may be necessary to involve the courts in the arrangement of child custody.

When determining what custody arrangement is in the best interest of a child, a judge may consider many different factors (Fam. Code § 3040 – § 3049). Some of those factors include:

  • The health, safety, and welfare of the child (Fam. Code § 3011(a)(1)).
  • The desires of the child (beginning at age 14) (Fam. Code § 3042).
  • The stability of each parent.
  • Any history of domestic violence or abuse by either parent (Fam. Code § 3020(a), § 3011(a)(2)(A), § 3044).
  • Habitual illegal use of controlled substances and abuse of alcohol or prescription drugs by either parent (Fam. Code § 3011(a)(4)).
  • Each parent’s ability to care for the child.
  • The nature and amount of contact the child currently has with each parent (Fam. Code § 3011(a)(3)).

The family court may make any orders regarding the custody of a child, during the child’s minority, that seems necessary or proper (Fam. Code § 3022) if the parents are not able to come to an agreement in child custody mediation.

California custody law gives the court a large degree of discretion, and an experienced child custody attorney can help navigate the factors the court may consider in determining child custody in the state of California.

Child Custody Attorney Family Law Lawyer California

Family Code 3021 gives the family court the authority to make child custody determinations in the following matters:

  • Divorce
  • Nullity of Marriage
  • Legal Separation
  • Domestic Violence Prevention Act Proceedings
  • Paternity
  • Dissolution of Domestic Partnership

Factors the California Family Court Does Not Consider in Child Custody Cases

  • The sex, gender identity, gender expression, or sexual orientation of a parent (Fam. Code § 3040(c), § 3020(d), § 3011(d)).

Legal Custody of a Child under California Law

Legal custody falls into two categories:

  • Joint, where both parents equally share the right and responsibility to make decisions about the welfare, health, and education of a child (Fam. Code § 3003).
  • Sole, where only one parent has the right and responsibility to make decisions about the welfare, health, and education of a child (Fam. Code § 3006).

A parent with legal custody of a child makes the decisions and choices about their child’s:

  • School and/or child care
  • Religious activities
  • Psychiatric, psychological, and other mental health counseling or therapy needs
  • Doctors, dentists, orthodontists, and other health professionals
  • Extracurricular activities
  • Residence (where the child will live)

Those parents who share joint legal custody of their child both have the right to make decisions about the categories above, but they do not have to agree on every decision.

Either parent can make a decision alone, but to avoid unnecessary problems that will land them back in court, both parents need to communicate with each other in making decisions together.  This communication is called co-parenting and is a necessary tool for parents raising a child together, after separation.  For help honing this skill, a co-parenting therapist can assist parents in need.

Physical Custody of a Child under California Law

Like legal custody, physical custody falls into two categories:

Despite how the term may sound, joint physical custody doesn’t always mean that the child spends exactly half the time with each parent. Oftentimes, children spend more time with one parent than the other because it is too hard on the child to split their time exactly in half.  In such circumstances, a parent may be awarded primary physical custody of a child.  This means that the parents share joint custody, but the child’s residence for school enrollment purposes is the residence of the parent with primary physical custody.

Custody Lawyer California Family Law Attorney Move-Away

What do Judges Look for in Child Custody Cases?

When parents are unable to reach a stipulated agreement in a custody case, they may end up on opposite sides of a courtroom.  Our attorneys will provide the knowledge and skill necessary to prevail in a child custody case efficiently and effectively, taking into consideration the best interests of the child.

Each parent and custody case is unique, and so are the factors that may impact the outcome of their custody case.

Who Has Custody of a Child if There is No Court Order?

If there is no child custody order in place, both parents have an equal right to custody of the child and either parent may lawfully take physical possession of the child at any time. Oftentimes, unreasonably withholding a child from the other parent is the event which prompts the parent from whom the child has been withheld to seek judicial intervention. Taking the child away without the other parent’s consent can be held against a parent in court if that action was not reasonable.


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      Offices Throughout California

      Los Angeles Office
      10880 Wilshire Blvd Ste 1101
      Los Angeles, CA 90024
      Phone: (310) 496-3300

      Orange County Office
      4000 MacArthur Blvd Ste 655
      Newport Beach, CA 92660
      Phone: (949) 888-8800

      San Jose Office
      99 S. Almaden Blvd Suite 600
      San Jose, CA 95113
      Phone: (408) 777-6800

      San Diego Office
      11622 El Camino Real Ste 100
      San Diego, CA 92130
      Phone: (858) 800-3300

      San Francisco Office
      50 California St, Ste 1500
      San Francisco, CA 94111
      Phone: (415) 966-3300

      Riverside Office
      3610 Central Ave, Ste 400
      Riverside, CA 92506
      Phone: (951) 888-3300

      Sacramento Office
      500 Capitol Mall, Suite 2350
      Sacramento, CA 95814
      Phone: (916) 668-3300

      The information on this site, including the Talkov Law Blog, is intended for general information purposes only. By using this site, you agree that any information contained in the site does not constitute legal, financial or any other form of professional advice. Information on this site may be changed without notice and is not guaranteed to be complete, accurate, correct or up-to-date.